WHL announces Academic Spotlight for February


Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today the Academic Spotlight for February, featuring the B.C. Division. Student athletes recognized this month for their academic achievements include Kamloops Blazers goaltender Dylan Garand, Kelowna Rockets forward Jake Poole, Prince George Cougars forward Craig Armstrong, Vancouver Giants forward Cole Shepard, and Victoria Royals forward Alex Bolshakov.

During the months of November through February, each of the WHL’s 22 member Clubs will name a student-athlete that has achieved significant academic results as selected by the Club. Each month, one WHL Division will have their players celebrated in the Academic Spotlight:

Academic Spotlight Schedule
November – East Division
December – Central Division
January – U.S. Division
February – B.C. Division

WHL players recognized as Academic Achievers are observed as those striving to reach their full potential in their educational programs while balancing WHL commitments.


Dylan Garand, Kamloops Blazers: The 17-year-old goaltender from Victoria, B.C. has thrived as a student at Valleyview Secondary School and between the pipes for the Blazers this season. Garand has completed Grade 12 coursework Pre-Calculus, English, Human Performance, Active Living, Law, as well as Anatomy and Physiology.

“Dylan is respected by his teammates as well as our staff, both as an excellent academic student and he provides excellent leadership,” said Victor Bifano, Academic Advisor for the Blazers. “He has managed his academics and hockey with a profound degree of maturity.”

In 42 games with the Blazers this season, Garand has compiled a 28-10-2-1 record, 2.21 goals-against average, 0.921 save percentage, and four shutouts. Among all WHL goaltenders, he ranks third in the WHL in wins, GAA, and SV%, and is tied for fourth in shutouts.


Jake Poole, Kelowna Rockets: 
The 17-year-old forward from McAuley, Man. has found academic and team success in his first season with the Rockets. Attending Kelowna Secondary School, Poole is enriching his academic experience through coursework in Physics, Pre-Calculus, and Physical Education.

“Jake communicates well with his teachers to make sure he is organized and up to date with all his missed assignments,” said Darren Wishlow, Academic Advisor for the Rockets. “He is a very polite student.”

In his rookie season with the Rockets, Poole has provided 16 points (4G-12A) in 59 games. Poole scored the first goal of his WHL career on October 12, 2019 at home against the Blazers.


Craig Armstrong, Prince George Cougars: A 16-year-old product of Airdrie, Alta., Armstrong has brought a strong presence to the classroom and ice in northern British Columbia. Enrolled at Prince George Secondary School, Armstrong is completing Grade 11 coursework in Leadership, Fitness & Conditioning, Language Arts, & Math.

“He is a genuine, hardworking teammate and makes valuable contributions to the school and greater community,” said Mary LaMarre, Academic Advisor for the Cougars. “He has a great sense of humour and mentorship skills that are evident in the positive rapport he has with everyone he works with.”

The rookie forward has appeared in 62 games during the 2019-20 WHL regular season, posting eight points (1G-7A). Armstrong scored the first goal of his WHL career on January 17, 2020 during a road game against the Moose Jaw Warriors.


Cole Shepard, Vancouver Giants: The 18-year-old forward from West Vancouver, B.C. has excelled in the classroom and one the ice for the Giants. Enrolled at South Delta Secondary School, Shepard is taking Grade 12 courses in English, Anatomy & Physiology, Pre-Calculus, as well as Sport & Fitness.

“Cole’s teachers are consistently impressed by his work ethic and achievement,” said Gatlin Saip, Academic Advisor for the Giants. “He juggles his schedule very well in spite of the many demands facing him.”

While keeping a focus on his studies, Shepard has become an integral part of the team’s offence, posting 29 points (11G-18A) in 50 games during his rookie season. Shepard recorded a career-high four points on February 4, 2020 at home.


Alex Bolshakov, Victoria Royals: A 17-year-old from Seattle, Wash., Bolshakov is finding success in both elements of the student-athlete picture. Enrolled at BYU Independent Studies, Bolshakov is completing Grade 12 coursework in Economics, English, Creative Writing, and U.S. History.

“Alex has been diligent in completing his coursework online to provide a seamless transition back for graduation,” said Tammy Renyard, Academic Advisor for the Royals. “He is highly independent and motivated to be successful.”

Bolshakov has recorded a pair of goals in 40 games this season. His contributions extend off the ice as well, with his involvement in the local chapter of the Special Olympics.

WHL Academic Achievers – February

Club Nominee School / Institution
Brandon Vincent Iorio Crocus Plains High School
Calgary Adam Kydd Edge School
Edmonton Scott Atkinson MacEwan University
Everett Braden Holt Everett High School
Lethbridge Chase Wheatcroft Chinook High School
Medicine Hat Noah Danielson Medicine Hat High School
Moose Jaw Tate Popple Athabasca University
Portland Jack O’Brien Sunset High School
Prince Albert Landon Kosior Carlton Comprehensive High School
Red Deer Dallon Melin St. Gabriel Learning Centre
Regina Logan Nijhoff Athabasca University
Saskatoon Koen MacInnes City Park Collegiate
Seattle Conner Roulette Kentwood High School
Spokane Raegan Wiles Joel E. Ferris High School
Swift Current Cohner Saleski Swift Current Comprehensive High School
Tri-City  Marc Lajoie Bellerose Composite High School
Winnipeg Michael Milne Shaftesbury High School

Fully funded by WHL member Clubs, all current WHL players are encouraged to enroll in post-secondary courses. This season, over 160 current players are taking post-secondary courses while playing in the WHL. The financial assistance received for post-secondary studies while playing does not impact on the WHL Scholarship benefits a WHL player is entitled to upon graduating from the League.

Every player who plays in the WHL is eligible to receive the WHL Scholarship. For every season a player plays in the WHL, they receive a guaranteed, full-year WHL Scholarship, including tuition, textbooks and compulsory fees to a post-secondary institution of their choice. The WHL Scholarship is a fully-guaranteed academic scholarship with no requirement to play university hockey to qualify.

About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.

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